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The Florida Statutes

The 2023 Florida Statutes (including Special Session C)

Title XIV
Chapter 196
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F.S. 196.26
1196.26 Exemption for real property dedicated in perpetuity for conservation purposes.
(1) As used in this section:
(a) “Allowed commercial uses” means commercial uses that are allowed by the conservation easement encumbering the land exempt from taxation under this section.
(b) “Conservation easement” means the property right described in s. 704.06.
(c) “Conservation purposes” means:
1. Serving a conservation purpose, as defined in 26 U.S.C. s. 170(h)(4)(A)(i)-(iii), for land which serves as the basis of a qualified conservation contribution under 26 U.S.C. s. 170(h); or
2.a. Retention of the substantial natural value of land, including woodlands, wetlands, watercourses, ponds, streams, and natural open spaces;
b. Retention of such lands as suitable habitat for fish, plants, or wildlife; or
c. Retention of such lands’ natural value for water quality enhancement or water recharge.
(d) “Dedicated in perpetuity” means that the land is encumbered by an irrevocable, perpetual conservation easement.
(2) Land that is dedicated in perpetuity for conservation purposes and that is used exclusively for conservation purposes is exempt from ad valorem taxation. Such exclusive use does not preclude the receipt of income from activities that are consistent with a management plan when the income is used to implement, maintain, and manage the management plan.
(3) Land that is dedicated in perpetuity for conservation purposes and that is used for allowed commercial uses is exempt from ad valorem taxation to the extent of 50 percent of the assessed value of the land.
(4) Land that comprises less than 40 contiguous acres does not qualify for the exemption provided in this section unless, in addition to meeting the other requirements of this section, the use of the land for conservation purposes is determined by the Acquisition and Restoration Council created in s. 259.035 to fulfill a clearly delineated state conservation policy and yield a significant public benefit. In making its determination of public benefit, the Acquisition and Restoration Council must give particular consideration to land that:
(a) Contains a natural sinkhole or natural spring that serves a water recharge or production function;
(b) Contains a unique geological feature;
(c) Provides habitat for endangered or threatened species;
(d) Provides nursery habitat for marine and estuarine species;
(e) Provides protection or restoration of vulnerable coastal areas;
(f) Preserves natural shoreline habitat; or
(g) Provides retention of natural open space in otherwise densely built-up areas.

Any land approved by the Acquisition and Restoration Council under this subsection must have a management plan and a designated manager who will be responsible for implementing the management plan.

(5) The conservation easement that serves as the basis for the exemption granted by this section must include baseline documentation as to the natural values to be protected on the land and may include a management plan that details the management of the land so as to effectuate the conservation of natural resources on the land.
(6) Buildings, structures, and other improvements situated on land receiving the exemption provided in this section and the land area immediately surrounding the buildings, structures, and improvements must be assessed separately pursuant to chapter 193. However, structures and other improvements that are auxiliary to the use of the land for conservation purposes are exempt to the same extent as the underlying land.
(7) Land that qualifies for the exemption provided in this section the allowed commercial uses of which include agriculture must comply with the most recent best management practices if adopted by rule of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
(8) As provided in s. 704.06(8) and (9), water management districts with jurisdiction over lands receiving the exemption provided in this section have a third-party right of enforcement to enforce the terms of the applicable conservation easement for any easement that is not enforceable by a federal or state agency, county, municipality, or water management district when the holder of the easement is unable or unwilling to enforce the terms of the easement.
(9) The Acquisition and Restoration Council, created in s. 259.035, shall maintain a list of nonprofit entities that are qualified to enforce the provisions of a conservation easement.
History.s. 1, ch. 2009-157.
1Note.Section 8, ch. 2009-157, provides that “[t]he Department of Revenue may adopt emergency rules to administer s. 196.26, Florida Statutes, as created by this act. The emergency rules shall remain in effect for 6 months after adoption and may be renewed during the pendency of procedures to adopt rules addressing the subject of the emergency rules.”